The two elevators in Coles Tower malfunctioned several times last weekend, leaving the tallest building on campus without fully operating elevators. For some students who live on the upper floors of the Tower or attend class in one of the two classrooms on the 16th floor, the issues were a major inconvenience. Both elevators were fully operational by Monday, and Facilities Management has taken steps to prevent future breakdowns.

 The first elevator, on the north side of the building, began making noises Saturday evening. The elevator contractor came and determined it could continue to operate. 
Later on in the weekend, the noise started again. The contractor returned, figured out the issue, and fixed the elevator on Sunday.

“The problem [was that] there was a set of noisy rollers in the elevator system,” said Ted Stam, director of facilities operation and maintenance. “It [was] a mechanical noise.”

While the north elevator’s issues lasted only a day, the south elevator had more pressing problems. Friday evening the elevator got stuck on the first floor with its doors open. The mechanic determined that the elevator was safe for use, so Facilities put it back into service that evening, according to Stam. However, on Sunday morning, it began malfunctioning yet again. 

A mechanic replaced parts on Monday morning and by Monday afternoon, the elevator was back in full use.

 “What we had was two elevators experiencing problems of two very different natures at the same time,” Stam said.

Stam added that the double breakdown may have been the culmination of a number of smaller issues with the two elevators. The elevators had been experiencing some problems leading into the weekend.
Last week, only one of the elevators was working.

Alex N’Diaye ’15, who lives on the 15th floor, said that elevator service was also slowed down because maintenance was frequently working on the elevators. The limited access to elevators was particularly inconvenient for her.  

“It’s a hike up to the 15th floor,” she said. “It makes me not want to go back to the Tower. I pack for six hours a day, and then don’t come back.”

The malfunctioning elevator also inconvenienced students whose classes meet in the seminar rooms on the 16th floor.
Corinne Alini ’18, whose first- year seminar meets on the 16th floor, said she and her classmates had to compromise over who got to take the one working elevator.

“When we all get out of class we had to decide who has priority over the elevator because it was going to take a long time for the [one] elevator to go down then back up,” Alini said.

N’Diaye understood the delay, but said she wished the elevators were fully operational sooner. 

“Obviously when something happens you want it to be an immediate fix, but it took a bit longer than expected,” N’Diaye said. 

The elevators’ interiors were renovated this summer as part of a four-year renovation to Coles Tower.

“We went to talk to our elevator company and asked what we should be doing to the elevators [in order to] prolong the life and make them operate better for the foreseeable future,” Stam said. “There were a number of things they suggested to us, all of which we did.”

One of these suggestions was these “facelifts” to the elevator cab interiors, a project that has since been completed and was not related to the recent malfunction.

After this weekend, Facilities looked at how it could improve the mechanics of the elevators. The north elevator has many sets of the noisy rollers, so Facilities ordered new ones to prevent further noise issues. The rollers will be replaced soon.

“There’s a little bit more work that has to be made,” Stam said. “We’re being proactive.”